Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Does that mean we have to forgive someone even when they refuse to reconcile?
First, the debts we owe one another are small change compared to the infinite debt we owe our heavenly Father. Because we have been forgiven an infinite debt, it is a horrendous evil to even consider withholding our forgiveness from those who seek it. Thus, we must always manifest the kind of love that is willing to forgive those who wrong us.
Furthermore, forgiveness is by definition a two-way street leading to the restoration of fellowship. It requires someone who is willing to forgive and someone who is wanting to be forgiven. If you are to forgive me, I must be repentant; otherwise, there can be no restoration of fellowship (i.e., forgiveness).
Finally, we must never suppose that our standard of forgiveness is higher than God’s standard. He objectively offers us forgiveness and the restoration of fellowship with Him. We do not subjectively realize His forgiveness, however, until we repent (Luke 6:37–38).
***Note the preceding text is adapted from a new Revised and Updated version of The Complete Bible Answer Book that is forthcoming in Fall 2023. When available for pre-order we will update this page with corresponding information. Until then you can still purchase or receive for your partnering gift the current version by clicking here for purchase or here for partnering gift. ***
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